“Blast Laugh” Guy
½ Full-tank-but-still-need-to-fill-up Guy
Best Music Teacher
Always-wear-my-Dallas-Cowboy-jacket-to-the-dentist Man (no matter the weather)…
Most Outstanding Player, OBU (1962, 1963)
Exceptional Merit for his Jazz Contribution, OBU (1962, 1963)
These are just a few of the names people used to describe Dad.
Dad was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma on March 1, 1940 to Paul and Ruby Jean Lewis. He has a sister Paula and husband Jackie, and brothers Bennie and wife Malinda, and Ronald. He has 3 children, Donald Paul Lewis II, Tori Lynn Ledesma and husband Gil, and Nikki Lynn Lossing and husband Charles. He has 7 grandchildren, Don Paul Lewis III, Kameron Lewis, Ethan, Katie and Emily Ledesma, Sidney and Cassidy Lossing. Numerous nephews and nieces; and great granddaughter, Melody Lewis. In-laws Sandra and Tom Tillotson.
After graduating from Central High School in Muskogee, Dad joined the Air Force and served as a Basic Airman Reservist from 1958 until his Honorable Discharge in 1966. His place of entry was Davis Field, Oklahoma.’ During this time he completed a course called Aircraft Familiarization and an Aircraft Mechanic Course (one or two engines). Whaaaaat?? He didn’t discuss this part of his life much, because it ‘wasn’t much fun’ as he put it.
He was married September 21, 1962 to Glenda Lynn Tillotson, the love of his life, until her death in February, 2019. They were married for 57 years for those doing the math. Her death left him completely heartbroken and he never fully recovered from the depression left behind.
Dad earned a degree in Music at Oklahoma City University in 1966. Then he taught as a band director at Oklahoma Baptist University earning numerous awards as musician and soloist. He also directed several musicals including ‘Bye, Bye Birdie’, and performed as Lead Arranger of with the Collegians Stage Band in the ‘Story of Jazz’ and ‘Artistry of Jazz’. One particular newspaper article, written in 1963, called The Bison, in Shawnee, Oklahoma, wrote that Dad ‘made up the sizable portion of the big sound with his tremendous range and tonal projection on his trumpet’.
Indeed, Dad was very talented. Both in music and art.
We moved to San Antonio, Texas in early 1970. Dad loved the outdoors, so he bought a small property outside Bandera, Texas proudly named ‘The Ranch’ where he forced free labor upon his 3 children to ‘clear and clean up’.
Childhood wasn’t always perfect. Dad was sometimes hard on us and very stubborn. How many times were we grounded?? Or spanked?? Lectured?? Too many to count.
After we moved back to Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1977, Dad earned his certification as a real estate agent and broker. But the market went bad, and we moved Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Then onward to Sallisaw, Oklahoma where he and mom went into the video store business. Then, in the 1990s, they hit the road to travel. They went everywhere…Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Missouri and many more, and Dad sold his drawings as an airbrush artist along the way.
Dad loved change. He enjoyed different places, different people and different things to do.
He and mom moved into my guest home in 2003 and have been there ever since. It’s been an interesting 18-year journey watching after their well being and daily habits.
Things you didn’t know about Dad…he loved neopolitan ice cream sandwiches, going to the movies, eating, cooking, driving around town and exploring new places, dogs, jazz (of course), teaching his music students (several have won solo competitions and scholarships), seeing family, going to church, his appearance on a postcard, and maintaining our property (to name a few). He loved comedy, so he introduced me to Abbott and Costello movies at a very young age.
He also had what I called, ‘the ugly toe’ on his right foot. We had a lot of laughs stuffing his foot into his shoes and making sure the thing was always covered with a sock in case company showed up.
After he retired, Dad LOVED mowing, edging and cutting things. Hours and hours… round and round, up and down the 5 acres of lawn, trees and flower beds. Mostly 3 to 4 times every week…mowing and mowing…up and down. Every blade of grass, every leaf that ever fell. It became our daily commentary. For the past 18 years. Up and down the lawn, around and around. Sometimes as late as 8pm I’d hear the mower start up. And every weekend my children fussing because they couldn’t sleep in…mower was always ‘too loud and too often’, they’d say. What could I say?? Noisy, yes. Can’t sleep, yes. Dad happy?? YES!
So, what did my Dad teach me after his 81 years of life? To truly look and see and try new things. See new places and take pictures to remember. Eat new foods. Take a course in cooking. Do keep all your receipts just in case. Drive a boat on a lake. Don’t miss an opportunity to smile, be polite and make others smile back. Use you children as free labor. Always keep your gas tank at LEAST HALF FULL or higher. Hug your dogs and go ahead and feed them from the table. Make music! And, finally, forgiveness. Forgive faults in character, forgive illnesses that cannot be easily cured and forgive hugs that may have come too late.
If there is a lawn in heaven, I know Dad has already assigned himself to the task. He’s mowing and trimming and keeping things just right. When he’s on a break, he’s sitting on a cloud, relaxing and playing his trumpet. Remember that telling in the Bible, Revelation, about Gabriel blowing his horn?? Well, listen hard, because Dad may just be directing the band!
I love you, Dad. My music Man. My Lawnmower Man.